Hartford, CT: Priceline Group is facing a proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging the online hotel booking company conceals known, mandatory resort fees from "Name Your Own Price"bidders, misleading thousands of customers about the actual price of their bookings.
Filed in in Connecticut federal court by lead plaintiff Adam Singer, the lawsuit contends that travelers who use Priceline' "Name Your Own Price"feature to bid on hotel rooms, end up paying undisclosed fees to Hilton and other hotels on top of what they offered.
"This conduct renders the 'Name Your Own Price' option illegal and deceptive,"the complaint states. "Due to defendant' conduct, a consumer is not 'naming his own price' for a hotel stay at all."
In the complaint, Singer states he used the "Name Your Own Price"option to find a hotel in Puerto Rico within his budget. Priceline matched him with a Hilton property and presented with a contract, which quoted his offer price plus $60.68 in taxes and fees, which he accepted.
However, the lawsuit contends that when Singer went to check out of the property, the hotel had added $66 in mandatory resort fees in addition to the price he had agreed to pay through Priceline, prior to his stay. The lawsuit alleges that Singer was not informed in advance of those fees as Priceline didn't adequately inform him that any resort fees would be included in the total price for his accommodation.
"Priceline could easily have programmed its Name Your Own Price bidding system to account for resort fees which it knew full well would be charged and thus match consumers only with hotels truly willing to accept their bid amounts,"the lawsuit states. "Instead, it affirmatively chose to delete resort fees from 'total' 'taxes and service fees,' in order to make it appear to consumers that they were getting a better deal than they truly were."
The lawsuit further claims that Hilton benefits from Priceline' deception because it charge guests, after the fact, more than they would knowingly consent to pay.
"By the plain terms of the Priceline.com booking contract, Hilton had no right to charge mandatory resort fees on that booking,"the complaint states. "By recovering an additional, baseless fee in the form of the resort fee, defendants are able to reduce its advertised room rates by the amount of the resort fee without any negative impact when price-conscious consumers compare rates across hotels."
Singer is seeking to represent a class of Priceline "Name Your Own Price"customers allegedly misled by the booking site' silence on resort fees and a subclass of consumers who booked Hilton stays that cost more than expected for that reason.
The proposed class is represented by Robert A. Izard and Mark P. Kindall of Izard Nobel LLP and Jeffrey D. Kaliel of Tycko & Zavareei LLP. The case is Singer v. The Priceline Group Inc. et al., case number 3:15-cv-1090, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.